Family home damaged in New Year's Eve fire


POSTED: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 6:56am

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 9:51am

Bright lights flashed onto a home on the 8500 block of Catalpa Lane last night, just an hour before El Paso rang in the New Year. But they weren't festive lights celebrating 2013 -- they were fire trucks racing to battle a blaze at the single story home.

NewsChannel 9 Today first reported the incident this morning.

One neighbor snapped a picture of the flames on her phone as they roared. Nobody was home at the time. A neighbor who wanted to make sure no one was inside did hurt their right hand but was treated on scene. Twenty-seven firefighters controlled the fire within minutes. Neighbors say they were home when frantic passers-by alerted them of a fire next door.

"All of a sudden, we heard a bunch of noise at the window and somebody was knocking, telling us the house next door to us was on fire," said Joe Atilano.

"They banged on our door, I freaked out, I looked out, saw flames, and we called 9-11," said Cynthia Atilano.

An investigation concluded the fire started in the home's attic and mostly damaged the garage. A van inside that garage also caught fire and was completley destroyed. Damages are estimated at $50,000.

Cynthia Atilano, who lives next door, called the home's owners with the shocking news

"I frightened her by telling her her house was on fire.. For a moment there, she though I was lying to her. I wish I was," she said.

"Since I've been here, in the last 20-25 years, this is the first house fire that I've seen in the area."

"It's the season where we get a lot more fires, due to the cold weather. People using their heaters, that kind of stuff. We always tell people you got to make sure your stuff is safe," said Chris Celaya, El Paso Fire Department Deputy Chief.

Fire investigators say the fire was accidental but the cause is undetermined.

The Red Cross is helping the family of four who lived in that home and are now displaced.

Photo Courtesy: Cynthia Atilano

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